Labour mobility is a win for both regional employers and Pacific workers
Labour shortages and declining populations are familiar challenges for businesses in regional Australia. The Australian Government’s Pacific labour mobility initiatives, the Seasonal Worker Programme and the new Pacific Labour Scheme, can help regional businesses and communities address some of these problems.
Through the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS), regional centres like Cowra in New South Wales, Longreach in central west Queensland and Renmark in South Australia are hosting workers from Timor-Leste, Samoa, Kiribati, Fiji and other Pacific island countries.
The SWP and the PLS are employer-sponsored visa schemes that allow eligible employers in regional and remote Australia who are unable to fill jobs with local labour to recruit workers from nine Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste.
The SWP provides access to unskilled work opportunities in the Australian agriculture and accommodation sectors in selected locations for a period of nine months. The PLS builds on the SWP’s successes and is open to all sectors, giving regional employers additional flexibility by enabling them to recruit low and semi-skilled workers for one to three years.
The PLS has recruited a large number of agricultural and horticultural workers and is now also seeing uptake from the hospitality, tourism and aged care sectors, among others.
Through the PLS, the owner of Hayman Island resort, Mulpha Australia, has employed housekeepers, kitchen staff, and groundskeeping crew.
Kiribati worker Retati is helping to restore the resort on Hayman Island after it was devastated by Cyclone Debbie in 2017. In the short time she has been there, her employers have recognised her skills and potential, promoting her to a front-of-house role.
A growing number of Kiribati nationals are also working in Australia in the aged care sector through the PLS. Staff at Bolton Clarke aged care facility in Longreach, Queensland, said the nine Kiribati staff they have recruited have both good skills and a genuine respect and care for the residents.
Workforce Resourcing Manager at Bolton Clarke, Alison Boundy, said employing Pacific Island workers for up to three years under the PLS has helped to create a more stable workforce, and this has also been positive for residents.
“They get to know [the residents], they get to know people’s names, and that makes their lives special because this is their home,” Alison said.
If you would like to find out more about the SWP or inquire about how to become an employer under the programme, email [email protected].
If you would like to find out more about the PLS or inquire about how to become an employer under the scheme, email [email protected].
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